1959, 1968 and 2019. These dates represent three firsts in the history of space travel.
On September 12, 1959, the Luna-2, launched by the Soviet Union's Luna programme, was the first spacecraft in history to reach the surface of the moon. On December 21, 1968, Apollo 8, launched by the United States' Apollo Space program, was the first manned spaceflight mission to orbit the moon and return to Earth. Just last week, on February 22, 2019, SpaceIL, an Israeli organization, launched its Beresheet lander, hoping to become the fourth country (after the United States, Russia, and China) to land a spacecraft on the moon.
A note of irony can be uncovered between the Apollo 8 and Beresheet lander missions. Israel's spacecraft is named after the first book of the Bible- Bereshit-Genesis, which means "in the beginning." The name was chosen by the public, and "symbolizes the beginning of a new space era in Israel". Aboard the craft, a digital time capsule was loaded with electronic files: "including the Bible... memories of a Holocaust survivor, Israel’s national anthem, the country’s national flag and a copy of Israel's Declaration of Independence."